Around 12 million Brits are allergic to things we find at home, and for 45% of these people, pets such as cats and dogs are the main trigger of an allergic reaction. But don’t think this means you can’t experience the joy of owning a pet. While no cat or dog is 100% hypoallergenic, some are less likely to bring on an attack of sneezing and sniffling than others.
Here’s our selection of 9 breeds that are known to shed less hair or produce fewer allergy-inducing proteins. And while you never know how you’ll react until you come into contact with their fur, it’s a good place to start…
1. Bichon Frisé
You could do far worse in the cuteness department than the lovable cotton bud that is the bichon frisé. Known for their curly, pearly-white fur, the bichon’s coat will also help keep your allergies at bay – by not falling out.Caroline Kisko, the Kennel Club secretary, says: “We always recommend speaking to the breed clubs regarding the ‘non-shedding’ breeds, as they will be able to offer more specific advice regarding any allergies to their breed. We also recommend all allergy or asthma sufferers speak to their GP or medical advisor for advice before choosing a dog.
2. Chinese Crested Dog
While fur is the most obvious culprit as far as allergies are concerned, most dog and cat allergens come from dander (or dead skin), sweat, saliva and even urine. Their frequent grooming – and with most breeds, shedding – tends to spread dander all over the house. The Chinese crested dog is a practically hairless breed, which means far less shedding, while their nearly naked bodies means they also won’t bring as many outdoor allergens inside with them.
3. Sphynx Cat
On the subject of hairless animals… the sphynx may look unusual, but due to a genetic mutation in the breed, their lack of coat may mean this is a cat you could actually live with. While all cats have saliva and dander that some people will always find highly allergic, regular bathing of these big-eared lovelies can help keep it under control. Sphynx cats spread dander around much less than those with airborne fur. Combine that with less-reactive saliva chemicals, and there’s a lot less to be sneezed at.
4. Devon Rex Cat
The biggest reason for feline allergies has been found to be a reaction to the protein Fel d 1, found in their saliva. With cats’ notorious licking and grooming, dried saliva becomes easily airborne via shed fur, causing problems for asthmatics. While the Devon rex is not totally hairless, it has a lot less fur than most breeds. Along with barely any topcoat and little shedding, the Devon will mean you are breathing in a lot less Fel d 1.
5. Portuguese Water Dog
One of these most ‘powerful’ dogs in the free world, the adorable Portuguese water dog, Bo Obama, was the answer to first daughter Malia Obama’s pet allergies.They have a coat similar to human hair in that they don’t have an undercoat, like many other breeds do. While no dog is ever totally dander free, the Portuguese water dog doesn’t shed, which helps keep allergens away from you and your eyes.
6. Giant Schnauzer
These beautiful dogs have a couple good things going for them – they drool less than the average dog and shed far less as well. Breeders advise getting them groomed regularly if you’re an allergy sufferer as this will help minimise excess dander.
7. Standard Poodle
Elaborate Crufts-style grooming not required! Poodles make wonderful pets without leaving trails of fur in their wake. They have ‘hair’ instead of standard fur, and therefore shed far less than most breeds.
8. Bengal Cat
While you wouldn’t necessarily think ‘hypoallergenic’ by looking at them, Bengal cats have a unique type of fur that can help lessen allergic reactions. They have very fine pelts, meaning Bengals don’t groom themselves nearly as often as other breeds. They also shed less, keeping that aforementioned Fel d 1 protein from plastering itself all over your sofa.
9. Siberian Cat
With their beautifully shaggy fur, Siberians may be even less of an obvious choice for our list. Siberians have been known to produce less of the Fel d 1 protein than other cats, making them a good choice (or at least worth a try) for cat allergy sufferers not into the ‘hairless feline’ look.
If you're one of the millions of people in the UK who is a pet-hair allergy sufferer but are still keen on having a furry friend to cuddle, these are the breeds you should be investigating.
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